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 John Gee

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John Gee

Birth
Peekskill, Westchester County, New York, USA
Death
4 Apr 1857 (aged 94)
Barton, Tioga County, New York, USA
Burial
Barton, Tioga County, New York, USA
Memorial ID
133818043 View Source

When John was just fifteen years old, John enlisted in the Army. An interview with John, at age 91, gives us details of his service. He entered the army in 1779 at Ft. Montgomery in Orange County. That year, he was with General Clinton as he led an expedition down the Susquehanna River. After making the upper portion navigable by damming up the river's source at Otsego Lake, allowing the lake's level to rise, he then destroyed the dam and flooded the river for miles downstream. This event is described in James Fenimore Cooper’s introduction to his novel The Pioneers. At Tioga, New York, Clinton met up with General John Sullivan's forces, who had marched north from Pennsylvania. Together, on August 29, they defeated the Tories and Indians in the Battle of Newtown near Elmira, New York. John Gee, in Clinton’s right wing of the army at the battle at Newtown, was in the “thickest of the fight.” He was afterward a participant in the engagement which ended with the surrender of General Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia.

John married Mary Hutchings in 1785, after being discharged from the Army two years earlier. 1790 census records show John and Mary living in Wyoming, Pennsylvania (Wilkes-Barre) with one son and two daughters. Meanwhile, in New York, nearly two million acres of bounty land had been set aside to compensate New York’s soldiers for their participation in the war. This was known as the “Military Tract.” Twenty-eight townships were laid out in a grid pattern and further divided into 100 lots of 600 acres each. The tract covered the present-day counties of Cayuga, Cortland, Onondaga, Seneca, and parts of Oswego, Tompkins, Schuyler and Wayne Counties. Sixteen Revolutionary soldiers drew lots of land in Cortland County – John was awarded Lot 21, in Virgil, bounded on the west by the Town of Dryden and on the south by Virgil Creek.

John first came to Virgil in 1795, with two other men from Chenango Point, near Binghamton, guided by marked trees. They cut down trees to build a log house that measured about 12 by 16 feet in size, with only an axe, with no board, nail, or pane of glass, and left. The next year John returned with his family from Wyoming, PA, arriving on the 17th of June. The family consisted not only of John, Mary and their children, but also John’s father, Derozel Gee (a soldier in the French and Indian War) his stepmother, and Mary’s brother Samuel Hutchings. John is listed in the town historian’s records as the third settler of Virgil. A historic marker exists where Gee Hill Road meets Simms Hill Road at the site of the original Gee homestead on Lot 21. Today a small cluster of trees grows there, fenced off from the surrounding pasture land.

>From the book "Early Settlers of Virgil, NY,” we learn: These pioneers traveled on foot through dense forests, crossing rivers and streams over rough skiffs hewn from logs. They crossed the Tioughnioga River near what is now Chenango Point. John’s family remained in their cabin home till winter when the weather proved so harsh they had to flee to Asbury, north of Ithaca, where they remained with a relative, Ebenezer Brown [the husband of John’s cousin] until spring. A newspaper clipping from an 1896 Hutchings family reunion continues the story: “On their return home Mary Hutchings Gee (or "Aunt Polly Gee" as she was known by family) saw some fresh green grass growing by the side of the road … upon the old state road. She had a piece of sod dug up, taking it home with her and transplanted it near her cabin door, where it grew and flourished. This was the only bit of grass seen for miles around, for it was all dense wilderness at that time. She also brought apple seeds with her from the old Wyoming home, which she planted raising trees from which so many of her descendants have eaten fruit. “

The Gee’s neighbors were Joseph Chaplin who was “at the river, about twelve miles by the road”, Ebenezer Brown (the husband of John’s cousin) twelve miles west, and John M. Frank “four miles without road.” The first flock of sheep, brought in by Mr. Frank, were all destroyed by the wild animals. Joseph Chaplin constructed several of the early roads linking Virgil, Dryden and Ithaca – the “Bridle Road” – that stretch of Route 13 between Dryden and Ithaca, the road at Malloryville just west of TC3, and part of Route 13 between Cortland and Dryden all have historic markers testifying to his laborious efforts.

In those final years of the 18th century, the nearest gristmill was at Chenango Point “with no store even there.” John’s flour was brought up in a canoe to Chaplin's, and from there on foot. In 1798 Ludlow's mill was built at Ludlowville, north of Ithaca, and was a welcome convenience to the Gee family and the few others who had then settled in Virgil. An unrelated manuscript on pioneer life reveals the importance of such a development: “After temporary food and shelter had been supplied, two imperative needs had to be considered by the pioneer before further progress towards civilization could be made. These were a grist mill and a saw mill. There are few tribulations of a new country, about which settlers are more eloquent than ‘going to mill’. Often this meant days of travel through a wilderness.” Ludlowville would have been a 15 mile journey for the Gee family.
“Gee-Town Cemetery” sits just west of the Gee homestead site. The earliest date visible on any existing stones is 1820 but family notes indicate the first grave would have been inscribed 1811. Though a marker no longer can be found, it is likely that this cemetery is the final resting place of John’s father Derozel. Stones do exist for Mary’s brother John Hutchings, his wife Abigail, and her brother William’s wife Polly, all of whom joined family in the Virgil area. We know that John’s brother, Moses Gee and his wife Abigail, (who are both buried at Virgil Rural Cemetery); his widowed sister Elizabeth Wolfen; and his cousin William with wife Helena; all came to Cortland County. Many others in the Gee family settled in adjacent Tompkins and Cayuga Counties.
John had given his brother-in-law Samuel Hutchings 100 acres upon their arrival in Virgil. Twenty-five additional acres later went to pay off a debt. We might assume that with the remaining acreage John and Mary prospered on their land in Virgil. But from John’s pension record of 1820, we glean a few illuminating details about what life was like for Mary and John here in Cortland County in the early 1800’s. His personal property was recorded in detail: one cow, 2 yearlings (the hoof of one frozen off), 2 calves, 6 sheep, 4 hogs, one plow, a chain, an ax, one old hoe, 1 old scythe, 3 pitchforks, 1 old table, 6 old chairs, and a handful of other household items. Five children still lived at home and in his statement John declared that he had been unable to do any farm work of consequence for the past 10 years due to a weakness of the back. Furthermore, his 50-year-old wife Mary was of “weak constitution.”

In 1842, after 46 years living in the Town of Virgil, Mary and John went to live with a grandson in North Barton, Tioga County. Mary died in 1849 and eight years later, John passed away. They are buried next to one another in the North Barton Cemetery. In all, fifteen children were born to John Gee and Mary Hutchings and all but two survived past childhood.

When John was just fifteen years old, John enlisted in the Army. An interview with John, at age 91, gives us details of his service. He entered the army in 1779 at Ft. Montgomery in Orange County. That year, he was with General Clinton as he led an expedition down the Susquehanna River. After making the upper portion navigable by damming up the river's source at Otsego Lake, allowing the lake's level to rise, he then destroyed the dam and flooded the river for miles downstream. This event is described in James Fenimore Cooper’s introduction to his novel The Pioneers. At Tioga, New York, Clinton met up with General John Sullivan's forces, who had marched north from Pennsylvania. Together, on August 29, they defeated the Tories and Indians in the Battle of Newtown near Elmira, New York. John Gee, in Clinton’s right wing of the army at the battle at Newtown, was in the “thickest of the fight.” He was afterward a participant in the engagement which ended with the surrender of General Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia.

John married Mary Hutchings in 1785, after being discharged from the Army two years earlier. 1790 census records show John and Mary living in Wyoming, Pennsylvania (Wilkes-Barre) with one son and two daughters. Meanwhile, in New York, nearly two million acres of bounty land had been set aside to compensate New York’s soldiers for their participation in the war. This was known as the “Military Tract.” Twenty-eight townships were laid out in a grid pattern and further divided into 100 lots of 600 acres each. The tract covered the present-day counties of Cayuga, Cortland, Onondaga, Seneca, and parts of Oswego, Tompkins, Schuyler and Wayne Counties. Sixteen Revolutionary soldiers drew lots of land in Cortland County – John was awarded Lot 21, in Virgil, bounded on the west by the Town of Dryden and on the south by Virgil Creek.

John first came to Virgil in 1795, with two other men from Chenango Point, near Binghamton, guided by marked trees. They cut down trees to build a log house that measured about 12 by 16 feet in size, with only an axe, with no board, nail, or pane of glass, and left. The next year John returned with his family from Wyoming, PA, arriving on the 17th of June. The family consisted not only of John, Mary and their children, but also John’s father, Derozel Gee (a soldier in the French and Indian War) his stepmother, and Mary’s brother Samuel Hutchings. John is listed in the town historian’s records as the third settler of Virgil. A historic marker exists where Gee Hill Road meets Simms Hill Road at the site of the original Gee homestead on Lot 21. Today a small cluster of trees grows there, fenced off from the surrounding pasture land.

>From the book "Early Settlers of Virgil, NY,” we learn: These pioneers traveled on foot through dense forests, crossing rivers and streams over rough skiffs hewn from logs. They crossed the Tioughnioga River near what is now Chenango Point. John’s family remained in their cabin home till winter when the weather proved so harsh they had to flee to Asbury, north of Ithaca, where they remained with a relative, Ebenezer Brown [the husband of John’s cousin] until spring. A newspaper clipping from an 1896 Hutchings family reunion continues the story: “On their return home Mary Hutchings Gee (or "Aunt Polly Gee" as she was known by family) saw some fresh green grass growing by the side of the road … upon the old state road. She had a piece of sod dug up, taking it home with her and transplanted it near her cabin door, where it grew and flourished. This was the only bit of grass seen for miles around, for it was all dense wilderness at that time. She also brought apple seeds with her from the old Wyoming home, which she planted raising trees from which so many of her descendants have eaten fruit. “

The Gee’s neighbors were Joseph Chaplin who was “at the river, about twelve miles by the road”, Ebenezer Brown (the husband of John’s cousin) twelve miles west, and John M. Frank “four miles without road.” The first flock of sheep, brought in by Mr. Frank, were all destroyed by the wild animals. Joseph Chaplin constructed several of the early roads linking Virgil, Dryden and Ithaca – the “Bridle Road” – that stretch of Route 13 between Dryden and Ithaca, the road at Malloryville just west of TC3, and part of Route 13 between Cortland and Dryden all have historic markers testifying to his laborious efforts.

In those final years of the 18th century, the nearest gristmill was at Chenango Point “with no store even there.” John’s flour was brought up in a canoe to Chaplin's, and from there on foot. In 1798 Ludlow's mill was built at Ludlowville, north of Ithaca, and was a welcome convenience to the Gee family and the few others who had then settled in Virgil. An unrelated manuscript on pioneer life reveals the importance of such a development: “After temporary food and shelter had been supplied, two imperative needs had to be considered by the pioneer before further progress towards civilization could be made. These were a grist mill and a saw mill. There are few tribulations of a new country, about which settlers are more eloquent than ‘going to mill’. Often this meant days of travel through a wilderness.” Ludlowville would have been a 15 mile journey for the Gee family.
“Gee-Town Cemetery” sits just west of the Gee homestead site. The earliest date visible on any existing stones is 1820 but family notes indicate the first grave would have been inscribed 1811. Though a marker no longer can be found, it is likely that this cemetery is the final resting place of John’s father Derozel. Stones do exist for Mary’s brother John Hutchings, his wife Abigail, and her brother William’s wife Polly, all of whom joined family in the Virgil area. We know that John’s brother, Moses Gee and his wife Abigail, (who are both buried at Virgil Rural Cemetery); his widowed sister Elizabeth Wolfen; and his cousin William with wife Helena; all came to Cortland County. Many others in the Gee family settled in adjacent Tompkins and Cayuga Counties.
John had given his brother-in-law Samuel Hutchings 100 acres upon their arrival in Virgil. Twenty-five additional acres later went to pay off a debt. We might assume that with the remaining acreage John and Mary prospered on their land in Virgil. But from John’s pension record of 1820, we glean a few illuminating details about what life was like for Mary and John here in Cortland County in the early 1800’s. His personal property was recorded in detail: one cow, 2 yearlings (the hoof of one frozen off), 2 calves, 6 sheep, 4 hogs, one plow, a chain, an ax, one old hoe, 1 old scythe, 3 pitchforks, 1 old table, 6 old chairs, and a handful of other household items. Five children still lived at home and in his statement John declared that he had been unable to do any farm work of consequence for the past 10 years due to a weakness of the back. Furthermore, his 50-year-old wife Mary was of “weak constitution.”

In 1842, after 46 years living in the Town of Virgil, Mary and John went to live with a grandson in North Barton, Tioga County. Mary died in 1849 and eight years later, John passed away. They are buried next to one another in the North Barton Cemetery. In all, fifteen children were born to John Gee and Mary Hutchings and all but two survived past childhood.


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  • Created by: Paul R
  • Added: 4 Aug 2014
  • Find a Grave Memorial ID: 133818043
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/133818043/john-gee: accessed ), memorial page for John Gee (13 Jan 1763–4 Apr 1857), Find a Grave Memorial ID 133818043, citing North Barton Cemetery, Barton, Tioga County, New York, USA; Maintained by Paul R (contributor 47317162).